Sasha Pavlovic scored 16 points to lead all scorers and the Boston Celtics beat the Miami Heat 78-66 Tuesday night at the TD Garden. Dexter Pittman scored 12 to lead Miami, but the Heat were outscored 50-32 in the second half. The Celtics were without Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, and Mickael Pietrus while the Heat rested Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh but the Celtics subs out played Miami's, holding the Heat to 38 percent shooting and forcing 25 turnovers. The Celtics finished the season 3-1 against Miami and the win kept Boston one game back of the Atlanta Hawks, keeping them in the race for home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Paul Pierce only played 17 minutes scoring a meager eight points while turning the ball over six times. However, true to form, the Captain still found a way to help Boston win. With the Celtics trailing 46-36 with 6:10 to go in the third quarter Pierce grabbed a tough weak side rebound over Pittman then fed Bass for a layup. This ignited a 14-4 Celtic run to close the quarter and Boston went on to out score Miami 42-20 the rest of the way.
Pavlovic Shows Up
Sasha Pavlovic had really been struggling over the last few games, and the trend looked like it was going to continue after he went scoreless in the first half. Then Pavlovic exploded for 16 points in the second half, including two big threes. This could be important for the Celtics. Overall this game was not big for Boston as it was played almost entirely by subs who wont see any floor time in the playoffs. However the Celtics may need Pavlovic if Ray Allen is unable to go come playoff time. A game like this where he gains some confidence could end up being a huge bonus. If Pavlovic can hit some open threes in the playoffs it could be critical for Boston.
The Value Of Being Professional
If there is one thing that can be said about the end of the Celtic bench, it's that they're professionals. Marquis Daniels, Keyon Dooling, and Pavlovic have all seen sporadic minutes this season. Yet all three were excellent tonight. The three have been professional throughout the season and remained committed to the Celtics despite seeing limited action. It must be a real comfort to Celtic coach Doc Rivers to know that he has players at the end of his bench that he can rely upon if one of his regulars can't go.
What It Means
With both Boston and Atlanta winning the Celtics stayed in the hunt for home court advantage in the first round. If the Hawks take care of business against the Mavericks on the Thursday the Celtics will open the playoffs in Atlanta anyway, but the win means the Celtics still have a chance. The primary concern for Boston is still obviously rest and health, and the Celtics got out the game healthy which is the most important thing. However they also got some minutes and confidence for some subs, at least one of which will have to play a role in the playoffs.
The Celtics wrap up their season Thursday night at 8 pm against the Milwaukee Bucks at the TD Garden. The Celtics will likely rest most of their starters but will still try to win on the off chance that Atlanta loses and home court advantage falls into their laps.
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